Essential Event Info

W H A T :

  • Documentary, total running time 74 minutes
  • Discussion after the film

  • W H E N :

  • Thursday, April 26

  • Screening at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:30 pm

    W H E R E :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park/Mt. Adams.
  • Easy Access, Free Parking
    click for Directions & Map

  • T I C K E T S :

  • Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for Art Museum members and students with valid ID.

    $6 tickets are ONLY available online, by phone, at the Museum, and at the door subject to availability.



  • tollfree 1-877-548-3237

  • at the Art Museum

  • ...and at these locations
    ($8 tix only, cash only),
    click each location below for a map:

  • Clifton-Ludlow Ave. -
    Sitwell's Coffee House
    513 281 7487

  • Mt. Lookout Square -
    Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters

    513 871 8626

  • Northside-Hamilton Ave -
    Shake It Music & Video
    513 591 0123

  •   Covington-Main Strasse -
    The Bean Haus
    859 431 2326

  • Tickets will also be available at the door.

    In the News

    "The film is a fascinating discourse on the nature of expertise. The art experts - the one who is interviewed on film, Thomas P. Hoving, a former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the anonymous ones who have denied the painting's authenticity for the International Foundation for Art Research - come off as stubborn elitists, saying 'I'm an expert, and she's not,' and 'Scientists are very interesting, but they come after the true connoisseurs.'"
    ~ Simon Cole, New York Times

    Read the complete New York Times story from December, 2006.

    "Interviewed over drinks in the back booth of a bar near her hotel [when visiting New York], Ms. Horton ... said that she remained completely confident that she would see herself vindicated, and that she would sell her painting at her price -- no less than $50 million -- within her lifetime. And if that does not happen? She clicked a long, lacquered fingernail on the tabletop. 'Before I let them take advantage of me,' she said, smiling broadly, 'I'll burn that son of a bitch.'"
    ~ Randy Kennedy, New York Times

    Read this and other New York Times news articles about authentication of Pollock paintings.

    ON THIS PAGE:   |   Ticket Info    |   About the Production    |   Discussion Leaders    |   Provenance and Fingerprints    |   Pollock in the News    |  


    Teri Horton

    Big Hair versus Big Art

    When Teri Horton, a 73-year-old former long-haul truck driver with an eighth grade education, bought a painting in a thrift shop for five dollars, she didn't know that it would pit her against the highest and mightiest people in the art world and perhaps change forever the way art is authenticated.

    Working with a forensic scientist, Teri learned that a fingerprint on the back of her canvas matched up with a fingerprint found on a can of paint in the studio of Jackson Pollock. More research showed that the paint on the floor of Pollock's studio matched the paint on Teri's canvas. Because Teri knew that a Jackson Pollock painting the size of hers was worth upwards of $50 million, she thought she had won the lottery. "Not so fast," said the art establishment, which looked down its collective nose at Teri and proclaimed her painting worthless.

    Proving that truth is stranger than fiction, WHO THE (Bleep) IS JACKSON POLLOCK? is an adventure story that documents Teri's 15-year war with the art world, lifts the veil on how art is bought and sold in America, and introduces audiences to the funny, profane, and thoroughly unforgettable Teri Horton.

    Teri Horton and her 'Jackson Pollock'

    About the Production

    "She had to be good enough to carry the film on her shoulders," says Who The #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? writer-producer-director Harry Moses when asked about his leading lady. "You don't move forward without that. Even in documentary films, you cast the stories appropriately."

    Born in the Ozarks in Missouri, a former long-haul truck driver with an eighth grade education, 73-year-old Teri Horton married the first man she dated at the age of 18 and was divorced three years later. A hard-living grandmother with a gravel voice worthy of Elaine Stritch, Horton is known among family and friends for decorating her place with items salvaged from dumpsters-having once found a $2,000 diamond studded watch in a local bin. A wonderful character in her own right, it is Horton's role in a story that plays like a true-life tall tale that made her a subject worthy of a documentary.

    A real Jackson Pollock, MOMA
    A Pollock painting at the New York Museum of Modern Art

    An Emmy and Peabody award-winning veteran of 60 Minutes, for which he has produced over 100 stories, Moses first learned of Horton in 2004 from producer Steven Hewitt and high-flying celebrity art dealer Tod Volpe. "Tod had contacted Steve because he wanted to do a documentary about corruption in the art word," explains Moses of Volpe, whose clients included Jack Nicholson and movie producer Joel Silver before being sentenced to a two-year prison stretch for fraud, an experience recounted in Volpe's memoir, Framed. "Tod was very candid about his background and jail term, etc., and when we asked him what he was up to, he explained he was currently representing a woman who'd bought a Pollock for $5 that might be worth $50 million."

    That kernel of a story eventually grew into a full-blown documentary, the first feature-length non-fiction film financed from its inception by New Line Cinema. "Only once I met Teri and did the research did we see there was a full-length movie there," says Moses. "The conflict is between the art world and this 73-year-old truck driver with an eighth grade education. They consider her highly dismissable because of who she is and where she's from, but she's done a reasonably good job of taking them on. So the film is a story about class along with everything else."

    Discussion Leaders
    Mark Harris & Ted Lind

    Anita Ellis

    We regret to inform you, that due to a death in the family, Anita Ellis will not be with us for the post-film discussion. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Ms. Ellis and her family.

    Mark Harris

    Mark Harris is an artist, critic, and curator. His approaches to making artwork are linked by an interest in the imagery of intoxication as a form of utopian representation, alternative to the more militant strategies of the historical avant-gardes.

    Currently Director of the School of Art at the University of Cincinnati, Mark Harris has an MA in Fine Art from The Royal College of Art, an MA in Continental Philosophy from Warwick University, and a PhD in Philosophy from Goldsmiths College.

    From May-July 2005 while in Beijing on an Arts Council England Fellowship with the Long March Project he made the video "Mao Songs," shown at "Year_06" in London in October 2006. Last summer he returned to Beijing for "Utopian-Bands," a rock concert he had organized with six Chinese bands.

    He has curated exhibitions such as "Educating Barbie" at Trans Hudson Gallery, New York, 1999, and "Bad Drawing-malevolent, misbehaving, misunderstood" at the University of Cincinnati, 2006. He also writes for British and American magazines.

    In 2007 he has video work in the DePauw Biennial, Indiana, and "Skirting the Line", at the New Center for Contemporary Art, Louisville. In May he exhibits videos in "State Fare" at the Wexner Center, Columbus.

    Ted Lind

    Ted Lind, Curator of Education at the Cincinnati Art Museum, has 24 years experience in the field of museum education. Arriving at the Cincinnati Art Museum in 2002, Mr. Lind is responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of a wide range of educational and public programs for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

    Prior to Cincinnati he served in education at the Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany, NY and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Lind has taught studio art and art history at the college level and has lectured and written extensively on the subject of museum education.

    As a museum educator he has also coordinated several interpretation and exhibition projects. Mr. Lind has served as a consultant/specialist for numerous organizations including the Virginia Association of Museums, the Rensselaer County NY Historical Society, the New York Federation of Historical Services, the Frederick Remington Museum, the Adirondack Museum, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Glen Falls Center for Folklife, History and Cultural Programs.

    He has served on review panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Connecticut Arts Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He is a peer reviewer for the American Association of Museums. Mr. Lind has presented papers and chaired panels for the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, the New York State and Ohio Art Teachers Association, the New York and the Ohio Museums Associations, National Art Education Association, and the American Association of Museums. He served as a member of the ASSETS Committee, developing the new assessment tools in the visual arts for the New York State Board of Regents.

    Mr. Lind received his B.A. with a major in visual arts from Albion College, Albion, Michigan. He received his M.F.A. in painting from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY. Mr. Lind was awarded a Max Beckmann Fellowship for advanced studies in painting at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Mr. Lind is an active painter and has exhibited widely.

    Of Provenance and Fingerprints

    Teri Horton originally purchased her painting-a heroically scaled, brightly colored, abstract expressionist drip canvas-for a friend at a thrift shop for five dollars (negotiated down from eight). When the picture stubbornly refused to fit in her friend's trailer, Horton put it back on the market at a garage sale. It was there that a local art teacher suggested she may have a Jackson Pollock, and Horton's journey through the worlds of international art dealership, connoisseurship, and CSI-style forensics began. (Horton's characteristically plainspoken response to the life-altering news gives the film its title.)

    But how does one authenticate a work of art, in this case a painting that, if proven to be an authentic Pollock, could fetch as much as $50 million at auction? Of vital importance to the art world in verifying a work is a concept called provenance: a history of where the painting has been and who has owned it over the years. "Some art dealers and gallery owners won't go near a work without being able to trace its ownership," says New York art lawyer Ron Spencer of this crucial trail of possession.

    But as several people in the film explain, the provenance of certain Pollocks are difficult to delineate. Pollock-a lifelong alcoholic and hell-raiser-was notorious for giving paintings away to friends and abandoning failed canvases in local dumps. And later in life, Pollock's widow, fellow artist Lee Krasner, had difficulty keeping track of a proper inventory of Pollock's work. Even so, without a proper trail of possession, Horton's painting faced a difficult battle. So, industrious as always, Horton simply invented one, a wild story about a bar proprietor and friend of Pollock's named "Pops."

    Forensic consultant Peter Paul Biro
    When IFAR, the International Foundation for Art Research, declared in an unsigned decision that the work was "not by the hand of Jackson Pollock," an undeterred Horton, with the help of her son Bill Page, enlisted the help of Peter Paul Biro, a leading forensics art authenticator. Biro spent two days pouring over the painting, comparing its drip patterns to other Pollocks, photographing details, and taking paint samples, until he came across a clearly distinguishable fingerprint on the back of the canvas.

    Pollock, who had never served in the military nor been charged with any crime, had never had occasion to be fingerprinted, so Biro paid a visit to Pollock's East Hampton studio hoping to find a match. Approaching the space-floors thickly impastoed in paint from Pollock's overshot splatters-like an archeological site, Biro uncovered a fingerprint on a can of blue paint. Computer analysis revealed identical ridgeline bifurcations between this print and the one on the back of Horton's painting, which Biro and other forensic experts concluded to be "a perfect match."

    As Pollock had no assistants, and hardly ever allowed Krasner to enter the studio, the fingerprint would seem to render Horton's argument on behalf of the painting's authenticity ironclad. Additional research revealing that the paint on the floor of Pollock's studio matched the paint on Teri's canvas only added credibility to Horton's case.

    Not so fast, said the art world. Upon viewing the work, Thomas Hoving, a former curator and director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, said, "It has no Pollock soul or heart. . . I don't believe it's a Jackson Pollock." Others in the art world, including Ben Heller, a Pollock expert and one of the artist's original collectors (One, which Heller purchased from Pollock for $8,000, now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent Pollock gallery), similarly shook their heads: the painting was worthless. And, without scholarship, without connoisseurship, without an art world consensus behind the painting, there would be no sale. (For its part, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, while cooperative with the filmmakers, expresses no opinion regarding the authenticity of Horton's painting.)

    "That's the conflict and the fear that the art world has," says Moses, who himself remains neutral on the subject of the painting's authenticity. "If forensic evidence is accepted, what does that do to connoisseurship? It will make it unimportant, and I believe the art world experts are threatened by it."

    When an anonymous buyer offered two million dollars for the painting, no questions asked, Horton turned it down. "It was on principle that I would not sell it," says Horton, who, like Pollock, will not sell her work for less than she believes it is worth. (Since the events depicted in the film, Horton has been offered nine million dollars for the work from an art dealer, an offer she has refused as well.) "She knows what it's worth and she's not giving it away," says Moses. "Teri is living on social security and what her son gives her but I think she's having a great deal of fun with this. The only thing she wants to do is buy a Cadillac and go to Alaska and then she'd probably give most of the money away. Her lifestyle won't change, she'll still pull stuff out of dumpsters."

    After reading Volpe's memoir, Framed, Horton contacted the dealer to represent the sale of her painting. Soon, Volpe had founded the Legends Art Group, an investment group established to sell shares in the painting. As Horton waged what would become a 15-year war with the art world, she became something of a Pollock expert. And it's fitting, too, that the painting in question might be a Pollock-that this quintessentially Horatio Alger story hinges on the work of that quintessentially brawny American artist. Like Horton, Pollock, too, came from a very humble background, and was a prototypical starving artist until a Life Magazine asked in a famous 1949 profile, "Is Jackson Pollock the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?"

    "In some sense Pollock's life of hard knocks mirrors Teri's," suggests Moses. "In a strange way, they're connected at the hip." More than a story about a fifteen-year crusade between an uneducated truck driver and the art establishment elite, Who The #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? is a sly essay about class in America, as well as a boisterous and freewheeling portrait of a funny, profane, and thoroughly unforgettable heroine, Teri Horton.